Category Archives: Me-Made-May ’12

The End of Me-Made-May — Lessons Learned

I didn’t manage to post my last picture for Me-Made-May yesterday so here it is:

Me-Made-May, Day 31

Top: Me-made Renfrew shirt, combination of Views A and B

Bottoms: Me-made shorts, McCalls 6328, View F (with a hem rather than cuffs)

This was pretty much the only fully me-made outfit I wore this month, although I own several other me-made shirts. The thing that distinguishes this particular outfit from some of my others is that the materials are all completely comfortable, and the look is close enough to RTW that I feel like I look “appropriate” whatever I’m doing. Yesterday, Youngest had a new friend over for a playdate and that’s not the time I want to be busting out my wildest skull skirts.

I found this Me-Made-May experience to be very challenging. Partly because my body size and the weather both started changing halfway through the month, and partly because I’m going through a shift in my style. I also tried to do 5 outfits with at least one me-made element per week, no exact repeats, and didn’t quite achieve my goal because I had some weeks with only 3 or 4 me-mades. I didn’t have any repeat outfits, though! What I’ve learned so far:

1) I get really, really grumpy if I don’t shop. I don’t need to buy a lot, but I don’t like an entire wardrobe of me-mades either. Some people enjoy that, but I don’t sew fast enough and I prefer having a mix of clothing options.

2) Last year, I started feeling like full skirts were too childish and I began working on straight skirts, tulip skirts and slight A-line skirts. After all this time, I have only an A-line skirt pattern as a TNT and I can honestly say that full skirts are far easier to fit and more flattering on my body. I have no idea why I thought they were too young, except that I may be getting long in the tooth for some of the shorter lengths. At this time, I plan to shift back to sewing fuller designs.

3) My most successful makes (in terms of wearability and how much I like them) have been shorts. I don’t like wide-leg pants, but I do like my shorts with a lot of leg room and that seems to make them both easier to fit and more flattering. I think I want to experiment a bit with pants shapes, to see if I can find a compromise between wide legs and the more fashionable narrow legs which don’t suit me.

4) I still have a “subcultural” style, but I find myself moving away from the typical goth motifs. Although my favorite neutral is still black and I don’t think I’ll ever get over a good skull print, I’m starting to get bored with the same old homegrown Hot Topic look. Along with more comfortable fabrics, fuller skirts and wider pants, I’d like to experiment with a modern take on period clothing. Petticoats, vests, peasant tops…that sort of thing.

5) I need to pack away seasonal clothes. I live in an area which has, at best, two and a half seasons — summer, fall/winter, and a truncated spring. Because of that, I’ve always kept my clothes out and accessible in all weathers. Unfortunately, that means I get heartily sick of looking at them and end up getting rid of perfectly good clothes that happen to be temporarily too small/too large and out of season. I also need to pay attention to materials when I’m making clothes and buying fabric, because it looks silly to wear heavy twill skirts in the middle of summer.

6) Things I should stop buying:

a. slinky knits for dresses (do I wear knit dresses? no)

b. silky material for any reason (HATE sewing silkies and don’t like wearing them all that much either)

c. blue denim material (prefer to buy blue jeans and make denim/twill pants in other colors and patterns)

d. large t-shirts to use for material (real jersey fabric is cheaper and more versatile)

Things I should start buying:

a. rayon blends or challis (after embracing spray starch, I’m starting to really appreciate the flow of challis)

b. patterns for loose garments that still have structured lines (I have enough basic patterns, I need to do more styling)

c. lengths of heavy twill in three yards or more (if I can’t make pants out of them, it’s pointless)

7) Thanks to the way my body fluctuates, I really need to err on the side of looser when I am buying and making clothing. I am getting better about picking out potentially flattering designs and matching them with appropriate fabrics, but having a stable of patterns that fit within ten pounds up or down would really help (I’m not going to say five pounds because I fluctuate that much in 48 hours. Trufax).

8) DO SOMETHING WITH THAT HAIR, HONEYCHILE. I mean that with love, but holy carp. I really don’t do enough to make sure I have a “proper” hairstyle. Growing out the layers and blowdrying it would help enormously. I have Helena Bonham Carter hair — all unruly, and I look like I should be a Tim Burton villain. Oy.

Anyhow, here’s a shout-out to Zoe over at “So, Zo…” for starting and organizing the Me-Made experience! Go and check her out if you haven’t already; she’s awesome. What about you all, my chickadees? Have you learned anything about yourself, your style, and/or your sewing from Me-Made-May?

Me-Made-May, Day 30 — Almost Finished!

Tomorrow is the last day of MMM, and good thing too. I’ve had trouble finding things to wear, largely because I’ve gained weight this month and most of my favorite makes don’t currently fit. It’s frustrating, but such is life. I’ll have more insight into the Me-Made experience tomorrow. Here’s today’s outfit:

Top: Old Navy polo, with me-added patch

Bottoms: Me-made black pleated skirt with red plaid insets, adapted from Simplicity 5101 (juniors pattern).

This is an old outfit, made back in my super-goth days when I desperately wanted a black and plaid pleated skirt from Hot Topic but couldn’t fit into any of them. I was not a great seamstress, so I used an elastic waist, drop yoke pattern for this skirt but that turned out to be a good thing. I have worn this skirt for AGES, through several weight fluctuations. I’m actually considering making more of them because they’re very much throw-on and go dressing. I do recommend edge-stitching the pleats, however, unless you really like tweaking your skirt back into place every time you stand up.

The copious amounts of zebra in the background are because one of my friends is having a zebra-themed party this Saturday. I spent $30 on fabric and I’m about to give up and go buy something because half of this stuff is too silky, and the other half is too stiff. My sewing mojo does not like these conundrums and runs away whimpering when I try to force it.

Renfield is a Vampire Familiar, Renfrew is a Top

….At least, that’s what I have to keep telling myself because my brain insists that this should be the Renfield top. Silly brain. But here’s the Renfrew in all its glory!

Yep, that’s me with wet hair. I took this shot in a rush because we were heading out to lunch with some friends.

This is my Me-Made-May, Day 28:

Top: Renfrew top from Sewaholic

Bottoms: unflattering and dowdy capris, refashioned into still unflattering but less dowdy cut-offs.

So, y’all want to know the pattern deets, right? Here they are:

The Good:

1) I ordered from Canada and got the pattern three days later. Over the weekend. That is some fast shipping, people!

2) The pattern and its instructions are very clear and well-written. I was able to match all the notches with nary a problem, and I am not a jersey-stretching virtuoso by any means. I also found it easy to trace, even though I traced out full patterns instead of tracing everything on the fold.

3) It’s comfortable and has stood up to a day of shopping, being pulled over my head and put back on, then having lunch with friends.

4) The finished product looks relatively professional, at least to my exacting standards.

5) The band at the bottom makes it long enough for my long torso, and I think the fit is loose enough to accommodate many body types — even if you have, say, a bit of a tum. I also like that the neckline is not TOO low cut.

The Bad:

1) If I were going by the pattern measurements, I would have cut a 6. As it is, I compared it to my t-shirt TNT (New Look 6735) and traced/cut an 8. I am SOOO glad I did, as my shoulders would not have fit into a 6.

2) When I first got the pattern and looked at the back, I panicked because the fabric requirements are ENORMOUS. You might need up to 3 yards for the long sleeve, cowl neck top and I never buy more than two yards for shirts. However, when I traced off the pattern in full instead of using the “fold” lines, the need for material was dramatically reduced. I think I squeezed my version out of one and an eighth of a yard. The “cut on fold” method really uses up a great deal of yardage.

3) It is not obvious from the pattern if the sleeves and other options are interchangeable. I just assumed they were, and carried on making the A/C bodice with the B sleeves. That may have caused the sleeve fitting problem I’m about to mention….

The Ugly:

1) This is not a pattern for people with biceps. I cut a straight 8, and I ended up sewing the underarm/body seam at 1/4 of an inch, then the cuff seams at 1/8 of an inch to accommodate my arms. Granted, I have big arms for my overall size, but the neckline and shoulders fit well so I don’t want to size up and I don’t like my sleeves that tight. HOWEVER, part of the reason I bought the Renfrew pattern was because I was hoping it would work for 2-way stretch jersey. Some two-way jersey has very minimal stretch, and I wanted to be able to make shirts from that material (my TNT pattern won’t work because it requires more stretch in the fabric). The jersey I used for this shirt has minimal stretch, and I’m relatively happy with how it turned out. However, I think I would prefer to use a stretchier material next time, as well as a larger size for the sleeves/cuffs. I have the idea that I could just gather the excess into the sleeve cap, like very slightly puffed sleeves. Call it a design detail. And yes, I plan on making this pattern again — it’s too good and too easy not to!

Projects, Me-Mades, and My Usual Mess

I haven’t been around as much because the end of the school year is upon us, and with it the usual rounds of carnivals, open houses, concerts and meetings. I expect no relief until school actually lets out over the third week in June. I’m reading all your blogs and loving them, just can’t comment as often!

Thursday’s Me-Made was a little bit of a cheat. I had to take the car in for an oil change, and our favorite place has an outdoor waiting room. On the coldest day of the month. So I wore my Christopher Webb jeans and several layers for most of the day, then changed in the afternoon right before we went to Open House for our two middle school students:

Top: Target Mossimo sweater, Gap Outlet tank top

Bottoms: Me-made Bird Sh*t Skirt

Socks: Gold Toe black crew

Shoes: Doc Martens 8-eye 1460 boots

Friday, I spent shuttling people back and forth since two of our kids had a minimum day and Oldest was leaving on a retreat. When not in the car, this is what I wore:

Top: Old Navy Perfect T-shirt

Bottoms: Me-Made skirt, New Look 6083

Belt: Gap Outlet

Socks: Gold Toe black crew

I wore my Doc Martens but took them off before this picture. The cat was sitting on my lap so you’ll have to imagine all the cat hair you could see in closeup.

Today, I spent my time doing a number of projects. First off, I needed a skirt for an event on Sunday and this was the best option:

Unfortunately, that cute little tulle ruffle on the bottom? Tends to cling to the legs and cause the entire thing to ride up in spectacularly unattractive fashion. Twenty minutes with a seam ripper, scissors and an iron gave me this:

Less cute but ultimately, more functional. Anyway, it’ll do for this weekend.

I also altered these jeans:

Get a load of that back waist gap and super long legs!

I put elastic in the back, which I discussed in a blog tutorial here. That fixed the back waist gap, but thanks to this denim being particularly inclined to ravel, I added a few sections of 1/4″ Steam-a-Seam to each side of the inside waistband cut. This is what that looked like:

With those in place, it was a simple matter of sealing the seam before I sewed it up.

I also used the standard hemming technique that preserves the original jeans hem. I could do a tutorial, but there’s dozens of them all over the web so I’ll just leave you with the results:

Much better!

I can use this as a Me-Made for this week, right?  I’m a day short….
Top: Gap Outlet
Bottoms: Old Navy jeans, size 8L, altered to fit
State of sewing room: appalling
So, I spent the rest of the day working on THIS:

Say hello to the RENFREW.

I traced out the pattern pieces in full instead of on the fold, because I HATE trying to get knits to line up on the fold. And this lovely white material? Is the special pattern tracing stuff they sell at JoAnns in the interfacing section. It’s like interfacing without glue. It is AMAZING. Easy to see through, traces like a dream, clings to the fabric and doesn’t move, hard to tear…and you can fold it on the grain line and match it to the pattern grain exactly. I don’t know where this stuff has been all my life, but I think I’m in love.
More Renfrew adventures to come soon!

Be A Duck

Actual conversation in my house last night, while I was running around barking contradictory orders at the kids:

The Hubs: Be. A. Duck.

Me: Uh–what?

TH: Like how water rolls off a ducks back? You should try that. Be a duck; they’re always calm, paddling around and quacking.

Me: How would you know? Ducks don’t have a lot of capacity for facial expression. Maybe they’re actually freaking out.

TH: Yeah, maybe that’s what it’s like to be a duck. The universe is against me and I can’t move my face!

Me: EXACTLY.

Alright, so I can still move my face and I’m not a duck but I’m pretty sure the universe is against me anyway. And I didn’t do Me-Made-May today because I had to show up at school for an awards thing, and I was trying to find the least violent outfit in my closet (I wore my Zombies in Wonderland t-shirt so….I’m pretty sure I failed at THAT but I also wore a feminine skirt, so I’m just going to argue they cancelled each other out). Here’s what I threw on yesterday for MMM, Day 21:

Top: Refashioned band tee + Kohls juniors tee

Skirt: Me-made, New Look 6083, blogged about two posts ago

Socks: Gold Toe black crew

Shoes: Doc Martens 1460 8-eye boots

Yes, that’s my laundry room and that’s me feeling put-upon.

Me-Made-May and Other Good Things Not Beginning with M

This is what happens when I don’t post for too long; the backlog becomes unbearable and I must spit it all out at once. Oops. In my defense, the kids had their school carnival on Friday and I came home exhausted. This is what I wore on Friday, Me-Made-May day 18:

Top: Sweatshirt from Target, T-shirt from Hot Topic

Bottoms: Butterick 5682, View A, blogged about here

Socks: Hanes ankle

Shoes: Converse All-Star low magenta with snap tongue

Friday’s challenge was green. As much as I like the color green, I generally don’t wear it due to being rather sallow. Even a hint of yellow undertones is bad on me. However, there are green accents on this t-shirt and the sweatshirt is teal, which I suppose could be considered a shade of green. Close enough.

Also, since someone was asking what the snap tongue on my shoes looked like, I thought I’d show rather than tell:

       

Hopefully, that makes it a bit clearer….

Anyhow, Saturday I had to get up early to drive Oldest to a Scout event in a city 45 minutes away. And he had to be there by 7 am. OY. So, I consoled myself by planning out breakfast at Starbucks and a trip to M & L’s Discount Fabric Store, luckily close by.

M & L’s is a strange place. First of all, a lot of the staff are Eastern European and don’t speak English. The ones who do speak English are exceedingly cranky; God help you if you want assistance. I’ve always gotten my fabric cut by hand signals. The prices and selection are all over the map, although I will say that the nice stuff is super-expensive and the $1-$3 per yard fabric is generally nasty. They have a good quilting selection and they are THE place to go if you need bridal or prom fabric — everything is in house and it’s all color-matched. Generally, I go for the $2.98 knits in the back room and the Kwik Sew patterns (always 20% off). So here’s what I picked up:

The two knits are jersey, which I’m saving up because….(deep breath) I bought a Renfrew pattern from Sewaholic! It is on it’s way to me now, and hopefully won’t get hung up in customs or anything like that. I CAN NOT WAIT!

Sunday and today, I spent working on a pair of sweat shorts. I used the leftover material from this sweatshirt, and the pattern from these pajama shorts. I knew the rise would be too high, so I took out two inches in back, tapering to four inches in front. They’re pretty comfortable but definitely just knock-around shorts:

Me-Made-May, Day 21 (today):

This painting hangs on the wall of our dining room. One of the Hubs’ friends is a painter/poet who was inspired by me reading one of his poems, and painted this. I bought it because it reminds me of the inside of a Tardis, and that makes me happy.

Top: Fangbanger T-shirt from Hot Topic

Shorts: Me-made, blogged about on this post

Here’s the back view:

I put a pocket on the back so it would look less like I am wandering around in my pajamas.

I apologize for not keeping up with Sci Fi Sundays, but Me-Made-May has been taking up a LOT of my time. I actually have a HUGE Sci Fi post to share with you guys, but I don’t want to post it during the week and have it get lost in the shuffle. Maybe we can do that next Sunday?

A New Skirt, Like the Old Skirt, and Me-Made-May

Oops, I actually gave you that title in reverse. We’re gonna do MMM first.

Me-Made-May, Day 16:

This IS my kitchen when it’s clean.

Top: H & M

Bottoms: Sailor shorts, Kwik Sew 3854, blogged here

Socks: Hanes ankle

Shoes: Converse All-Stars in Magenta with snap tongue

I don’t have any shoes in navy, and I’m from the “no navy with black” generation — yes, I know all that advice is hopelessly outdated now but do you know how hard it is to fight against years of cultural brainwashing?!? So, I opted to add a pop of color with these magenta sneaks. I bought them on a whim because I LOVE the color and I was getting sick of black shoes; however, it’s a challenge to deploy them sometimes. I think they work as a foil to all that NAVY.

Me-Made-May, Day 17:

Yay, bathroom again.  It was dark by the time I got around to pictures, and this really is the brightest room in the house.

Top: Threadless, http://www.threadless.com

Bottoms: Jean skirt with stars, New Look 6083, blogged at — wait, I HAVEN’T blogged this yet! I’ll get back to it shortly.

Socks: Gold Toe black crew

Shoes: Doc Martens 1460 8-eye

So, I bought 5 yards of this fabric. I fell in love with it and was planning an entire wardrobe of bottoms — pants, skirt, maybe even shorts. I mean, how awesomely goth/punk is that star print? The first clue I had that things might be a bit of a challenge was laying out the skirt pattern….yeah, and all those stars? Not so easy to line up. I managed to do ok on the pockets and sides, but completely flubbed the front and back seams. Oh well, I decided to think of it as one of those, “RTW never does this right anyway” moments. I still have a lot of fabric and I still want to do the pants, but it may take some serious work to lay them out. Here’s the front in close-up:

You can see the awkwardness at the front seam. I don’t think the back is quite as bad:

Ok, maybe it’s as bad. Yikes. Ignore the creases, please; I’d been sitting on this all day.

Now, I’ve made New Look 6083 about 5 times (it’s the pattern I used here) and some of my older skirts have a tendency to pull up at the back, so I made the back in a 14 and the front in a 12. I had to take in the sides by an extra 1/8″ because of this adjustment and because this twill, although thick, is VERY stretchy. It seems to work as far as fixing the swayback pull, but then it makes everything large in the waist. I did put in a slightly thicker, curvier waistband to compensate but the fact is, this is never going to be my most flattering skirt pattern. I just like the almost-a-jean-skirt style enough to wear it a lot, and it’s a great pattern option for all of those thick, fancy twills. I wish pattern companies would come out with more attractive options for heavy fabric — not all of us want to spend most of our lives in poly charmeuse, grrr!

McCall 6566 Fail, and a Me-Made-May Catch Up!

Yes, I have been sewing and not just playing the model! However, this is not a success:

McCall 6566, View D

It doesn’t look so bad from the front, but the back has a wrap opening that gapes if I move my shoulders an iota out of turn. You can see it here:

It really is that deep of a V in the back.

I made the small (8-10) since I’m in between a 10 and 12 in the bust and I knew the top had extra ease. However, I’m pretty sure I could easily fit into an extra small.  On the other hand, the back detailing would probably drive me crazy one way or another, so  I can honestly say don’t bother with View D. I may or may not try again with one of the other views.

Me-Made-May, Day 12

I had to take a Saturday photo, so I could get my 5 days in last week.

Top: David and Goliath

Bottoms: Bird Sh*t Skirt, New Look 6873 blogged about here

Socks: Hanes ankle

Shoes: Converse All-Star low with girly skulls

Me-Made-May, Day 14

By our front door, you can see the storage unit with part of our impressive Nerf arsenal.

Top: Threadless (www.threadless.com)

Bottoms: Me-made black shorts, McCall 6328 View F, blogged here

Socks: Hanes ankle

Shoes: Converse All-Star double tongue with studs

Me-Made-May, Day 15

In the hall between our dining room and family room. Those French doors open onto an utterly useless cement patio.

Top: Plaid shirt is Target Mossimo, white t-shirt is H & M

Bottom: Me-made stewardess skirt, frankensteined from two different patterns, blogged here

Socks: Hanes crew

Shoes: Doc Martens 1460 8-eye boots

This was one of my “Oh crap, I have to get dressed,” outfits. I literally just threw it on this morning because it was cold, then hot then cold again. Typical May weather around here.

I haven’t done any Sci Fi Sunday/Monday reviews in a while because I’ve been catching up on other reading and watching. So far, I am on the second disc of Spartacus: Blood and Sand and I think I’m going to have to stop. I can deal with the violence, but the completely unrealistic blood spatter — hello, nobody loses that much blood and lives. Especially back then. Idiots. And there’s the really bad sex…as in, you’re painfully aware the actors are not actually having sex because the angle is all wrong and they’re moving too fast (am I the only person who complains about unrealistic sex in non-porn scenarios? Probably). I’m pretty sure Roman gladiators were not familiar with the expression, “bang him like a screen door in a hurricane,” but it seems unfortunately apt. Even so, I could probably handle all of that if not for  THE ANGST. OMFG, THE ANGST. Everything is so intense that I think I might have a heart attack just from watching. I always finish an episode and want to lie down because I’m EXHAUSTED. I’m all for good quality drama, but some folks need to tone it down a bit.

So, what’s new with you, my chickadees?

Me-Made-May ’12, Day 11 — Hair Apparent

Ok, so I didn’t get a MMM post done yesterday because I was dyeing my hair — and I’m not about to mess up my good clothes with dye! Here’s the result:

The lighting was bad…I did clean up the bookshelf, though.  A little.

Top: By artist Jaime Zollars, via Felt Club LA a few years back (I linked to her without permission — if she asks, I will need to take it down but her stuff is AWESOME and I wanted to share)

Belt: Gap Outlet

Skirt — me-made McCall’s 5429, blogged about here

Socks: Gold Toe black crew

Shoes: Dirty Laundry boots

Hair Color: Jerome Russell Punky Color in Flamingo Pink

I wanted a lighter pink, so I didn’t leave the color on as long as I should have and it is bleeding out pretty quickly. We’ll see how it develops, but I may need to try a different brand in order to get the shade of pink I want. Still, it’s a nice fun color! Jerome Russell lasts a bit longer than most of the other bright color dyes I’ve tried, but I wash my hair every day (thanks to working out) so the color only tends to stay for 2-3 weeks on me.

I seem to have injured my knee on the treadmill this morning so I ended up changing the boots halfway through the day for my Docs, which don’t have a heel. I love the style of these boots but they may not be the best thing for my feet.

I haven’t done a Friday Headbanging video in SO long, but when I went back through my archives, I realized some of the videos had been yanked by Youtube. I understand the copyright concerns but it’s still really frustrating. I decided that it won’t stop me from posting videos, but I won’t go back and update if something gets pulled. So here’s what’s on my playlist this week:

 

Black is the New Black — Me-Made-May ’12, Days 8 and 9

It’s been a hectic week so far, and not likely to let up anytime soon. My outfit on Tuesday:

At the front door

Sweater: Target Mossimo

Tank top: Gap Outlet

Shorts: Me-made, Simplicity 1887, blogged about here

Socks: Hanes ankle

Shoes: Converse All-star double tongue with studs

If I were truly dressing up, I would have worn this outfit with sandals. However, there’s still a touch of chill in the air (particularly in the morning) and I was just running errands and hanging around the house so Converse were my choice. This outfit is a tad dressier than I wear for my day-to-day life, but part of doing Me-Made-May was changing up my style a bit. I still fall back on black when I’m rushed, though.

Today I wore this:

Yes, that bookshelf is way overloaded. It will be cleaned SOON. *crosses fingers*

Top: Fangbanger t-shirt from Hot Topic (fans of True Blood will recognize this logo)

Bottom: me-made skirt, Simplicity 4963/0699, blogged about here

Socks: Gold Toe black crew

Shoes: Doc Martens 8-eye 1460 greasy black boots

If you’re paying attention, you’ll notice that I have two different skirts out of this fabric. It’s a stiff twill with skulls that I bought off Ebay (two yards of it). I got into a bidding war and paid slightly over $16 for the fabric, but I think I got my money’s worth. My hair is a mess here because I’ve been shoving it out of my face all day. I have some serious decluttering to do — as you can see — and have already pulled some books off the shelf and started a pile. At least I know what I’m doing tomorrow (sigh). Hopefully I can fit some sewing into the day also.